Arthur Lamora was Marjorie Lyon’s grounds man and chauffeur from around 1950 until she died in 1976. He lived in the north end cottage apartment of the garage complex with his wife, Evelyn. Arthur was the most senior grounds person, doubling as caretaker and chauffeur. Evelyn worked in the house and was responsible for hiring and firing housekeeping staff.
Pat Palumbo is Arthur’s niece, grew up in Bristol and was very close to her aunt and uncle. She met with me recently at Blithewold to share memories. The Lamoras had no children of their own, but welcomed their many nephews and nieces to their home and entertained their whole family in style. Pat remembers thinking of Blithewold as her own back yard. They would have clam bakes, go fishing and swimming, and play games on the lawn. She remembers how seriously her Uncle Arthur took his job. One clear impression is of Arthur dressed in his chauffeur’s uniform, complete with hat, ready to take Marjorie from Bristol to the opera in Boston every week. “He was a sharp dresser,” she said. Arthur was also responsible for raising and lowering the American flag that flew from a flagpole on the front lawn. He would carry this task out with great respect, solemnity, ceremony, and formality. And if they were all out at a family occasion elsewhere, Arthur would keep an eye on the time – determined to get back to Blithewold by sundown to lower and fold the flag.
Arthur worked with Marjorie in the gardens, his specialty being the trees. He knew how to care for them, and he labelled them all. At Christmas he would choose a 20’ tree and erect it in the front hall, and invite all the young nephews and nieces to come and help to decorate it. Pat says the decorations were all very fine glass and she was terrified of breaking one. Arthur and Evelyn were very protective of the house and everything in it, and constantly warned the young people not to touch anything.
Evelyn’s biggest job of the year was the opening and closing of Blithewold. She had to get everything ready in the spring, cleaned and polished and ready for Marjorie’s return. After Marjorie left in the fall, Arthur and Evelyn would bring in all their relatives to help close the house down for the winter.
Pat is sure that Marjorie Lyon thought very highly of, and depended on, Arthur Lamora. And the feeling was certainly mutual. Both he and Evelyn were treated very well. When Marjorie died in 1976 she left money to the Lamoras so that they could buy themselves a new house in Bristol (said to be at least 3 years’ salary for each of them.)
As we were coming down the stairs, the hall clock chimed 3 o’clock, and Pat said the sound of it brought back so many memories. One memory was of being shown into a room on the second floor that Marjorie used as her art room. She could not remember which room it was, only that it had plenty of light. (Director’s office?) The room was full of half-painted canvases, easels, paints, and drop-cloths on the floor. Marjorie’s paintings were hung all over the house.
As life and events come full circle, Pat signed up on the spot to be a volunteer at Blithewold, and will begin by helping to decorate the house at Christmas.